Although the average consumer has to wait a month or more to get their paws on the new Mac operating system, and twice that long for iOS 5, there is one cool new feature Apple unveiled this week that users can take advantage of right away.

The iDevice community all let out a synchronous sigh of relief on Monday as Apple announced the new Automatic Download feature for iTunes and iDevices. While there are some limitations, the feature can help you cut the cord between your iPhone and your computer.

The built-in utility instantly recognizes when you download media on an iDevice or desktop, and automatically pushes that media out to your other devices. Once enabled, any app, song or iBook title you download on one device, will automatically push out to your other gadgets.

Essentially, any iDevice with iOS 4.3.3 or computer with the latest version of iTunes qualifies for the new feature, as long as they are all using a common iTunes account. It doesn’t take much to turn on Automatic Downloads and it can be a real timesaver. Check out this quick tutorial:

Step 1: Make sure the iDevices you want to use are running iOS 4.3.3 and you are using the new iTunes 10.3. If not, you can pick up the latest iOS on our Downloads page and the latest version of iTunes here.

Step 2: In iTunes, open up the Preferences Panel and click on Store. Make sure you select which types of media you want to automatically download and that the ‘Always check for available downloads’ feature is enabled.

Step 3: On the participating iDevices, open up the Settings app and enter the App Store Panel. Make sure both the Music and Apps items are in the ON position, and enable the Cellular option if you don’t want Automatic Downloads to be restricted to Wi-Fi.

That’s all there is to it. Pop into iTunes on your desktop and give it a whirl. Download an app or song and watch it automatically download on your corresponding gadgets. Now there’s no need to hook up your iPhone to download that App of the Week you’ve been dying to try out.

Any questions?

  • just noticed this, when I notification pops up on top while browsing or on the home page, you can swipe left to right on it to bring up your notification center

  • CyPhErLoUs

    Frickin awesome. Just tried it with Oldschool Blocks and sure enough it started downloading on my iP4 after it finished downloading on my PC.

  • Joey

    I have tried it out and it worked successfully when I downloaded an app on my desktop computer. The app began downloading to my iPhone. Awesome!
    But when I downloaded an app on my iPhone it wasn’t pushed to the computer.

    I know apple released iTunes 10.3, but soon after they released 10.3.1.
    I had just 10.3; I wonder if 10.3.1 fixes this problem so it will transfer purchases made on iPhone to the desktop.

    • Eric

      No. It doesn’t work that way. But when you open iTunes on ur pc go to the store tap purchased tap not on this computer and click download from cloud. Maybe when iCloud is actually running with iOS 5 we won’t have to do it this way.

      • Joey

        Actually I updated both of my computers to 10.3.1 and tried it. It worked. iTunes on my laptop began downloading the apps I downloaded from both my iPhone and desktop computer.

  • Brendan

    I guess this won’t work on Verizon iPhone since it uses 4.2.8

    • Joey

      That is correct. Only for AT&T since only 4.3.3 works at the moment.

  • Everything seems to work fine, but it looks like it doesn’t sync your music playlists

  • Frank

    Does anyone know if this applies to podcasts as well? Would love it if Apple allowed for automatic upload of latest episodes.

  • Weird, mine only shows Apps and books, no Music, any one else have this issue ? thinking it might be because I’m in Australia !!!

    • Simon

      That sucks, I was wondering why I only could choose between apps and books and not music. I was looking forward to enjoy my downloaded music on my mac automatic getting over to my iPhone 🙁 !

  • Just found out…. MUSIC is USA only 🙁

  • Jim

    Grooveshark is not on the list.
    Staying Jailbroken.

  • Does this work with updates to existing apps? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t and one has to manually update every version of iTunes, and the iPhone, and then do a sync.

  • Roel

    My iTunes still doesn’t download updated apps automatically.
    I still have to do alot of mouseclicks every time an update is available in iTunes:
    Apps –> x updates available –> Download free updates –> Done

    Why can’t I enable a setting where I can let iTunes download alle the (free) updates automatically?